90-Year-Old Teacher Still a Force in the Classroom - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

90-Year-Old Teacher Still a Force in the Classroom

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By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Twenty-five years ago, Eunice Rooks decided it was time to retire.  At the age of 65, she had put in more than forty years teaching in elementary schools throughout Chattanooga and Georgia.

But when her 80th birthday rolled around, Mrs. Rooks decided to put her considerable energy to good use, returning to the classroom.  Ten years later, she's still going strong as an interventionist at Chattanooga's Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School.

Fellow interventionist Susan Kimbrough, herself recently retired from a full-time teacher's post at the school, says, "Mrs. Rooks is amazing.  She drives to the school every morning, always on time, never absent, and she sets a good example for the children and the adults."

At the age of 90, Mrs. Rooks shows no signs of slowing down.  She briskly walks the halls each day, looking forward to her next assignment, usually going over letters and numbers with small groups of kindergartners in need of individual attention.

When complimented on her spry appearance, she said, "I do aerobics!  I lift weights, I can touch my toes, I love working out."  Attired on this day in a shiny red outfit, she said, "I love wearing bright things.  The children love color."

Principal Valerie Brown admires Mrs. Rooks' work ethic.  "She's from a very special generation.  Our young teachers see her enthusiasm and realize what a gift she is."

When asked about the differences she sees in children of today, compared to when she began her teaching career, Mrs. Rooks said, "Parents are much younger today, and so many of them are single parents.  These children sometimes don't have anyone to go home to.  I wish I could talk to all the parents.  I would tell them to be kind to their children, compliment them when they do something good, let them know you appreciate them when they're successful."

She hasn't set her next retirement date, saying, "I just enjoy each and every day.  These children keep me on my toes.  They're very honest.  I love it when they correct me, that shows they're learning!"

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